A former skeptic, I did not believe that a plant could have the power to cure anything. I grew up understanding “modern” medicine where you felt bad, went to a doctor, and either got a prescription or had surgery for whatever ailed you. This is what I knew to be good and true. I trusted the authorities and did what they told me. I assumed there were just things you had to take pills for.
Like belly-breaking menstrual cramps. You know, the ones that have you on the floor rolling in searing pain if you don’t take your ibuprofen fast enough. Oh. My. God. I am so glad I was able to heal myself of those forever.
As a young mom, I read everything I could get my hands on, wanting to learn how to best take care of my babies. I learned that what I fed my children made a HUGE difference in how they behaved…like the time I did an experiment on my three-year-old, to see if sugar really did cause her to go insane, jump off walls and then end up wailing in a puddle of tears after an hour. Yup. It did.
Needless to say, the poor kid had to eat my homemade sugar-free cupcakes at other kids parties, instead of those sugar-laden, beautiful, blue-frosting-piled-four-inches-high things the other kids got. My now 35 year-old daughter has never forgiven me for that, but I knew she was getting the better end of the deal. She got the best foundation for a lifetime of health. Good mama.
I also started reading about herbal medicine, although I did not have any faith in it. It confounded me to read the stories of healing, and how people had been truly cured of ailments that our orthodox medical system could not fix. I didn’t get it. How could that be? At the time, I was living with those monthly cramps that killed me, and I should have taken out stock in one of the ibuprofen companies, because I ate so many of those things for years. With each child I gave birth to, the monthly menstrual monster became bigger and harder to fend off. I was miserable and tracking on my calendar when the next feared Doomsday should arrive so I could prepare myself mentally and emotionally.
One of the worst moments? It was in a nationally-syndicated television production room, creating a family special alongside the all-male cohort I worked with. IT showed up two days early and I wasn’t prepared. I wound up on the floor writhing in pain, until it finally subsided three hours later with all the pill popping that ensued. Even though the guys were sweet about it, I was embarrassed as hell.
I finally decided to do something. I knew there had to be a way to heal this, because, how the heck did our fore-mothers survive without all the pills we have today?
Thinking back to my daughter’s behavior and how it completely changed once I shifted her food intake, I wondered about plants as a pathway to helping my monthly blues. Once again, I started reading. I studied plants and how they worked. I read traditional methods for healing, alongside the current research in modern herbal medicine. I learned that so many countries around the world heal with herbal medicine today in their “modern” medical establishments.
It made me curious as to why we didn’t do that in this country, and rather infuriated me. If it really worked, why didn’t I know about this already? Why didn’t our doctors tell me long ago? Why would I have to live with pain like this?
As a learn-by-doing kind of girl, I decided to experiment on myself. Still doubtful (herbs as medicine were, in my mind, myths and old wives tales), I purchased a couple pounds of a plant I’d read about, determined to prove this wrong. It never occurred to me that this could actually work. They say that the indigenous of this country didn’t even recognize the first ships and thought they were islands, because their brains had never registered such a thing. Well, my brain had not registered that plant medicine could truly heal either. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees so to speak.
I began my experiment in earnest, learning how to make medicinal tea. This stuff was nothing like the tiny teabags of herbal tea you buy in a store, which are simply a pleasurable beverage blend. Nowhere near strong enough to cure something. The brew I was mixing up was almost opaque and strong as all get-out. Fortunately for me (I was a wienie when it came to tasting stuff like that) this particular herbal infusion actually didn’t taste too bad. I’ve made some since that will put hair on your chest!
The medicinal recipe called for drinking one cup of the stuff, three times daily, for 30-90 days. And that was supposed to cure it. CURE IT. Cure menstrual cramps? Cure them?!!? Like, never have them and never have to take pills to stave them? Uhhhhm. Yeah.
Like a faithful dog, I followed the steps of this formula to the letter. Every day I drank three cups of the concoction. After about a week, I could no longer stand the taste of it, but kept on anyway. I had begun this herbal prescription just as my last moon cycle started (the tv studio incident where the cramps tossed me over the edge). Even though I had about 27 days until the next mammoth wave was scheduled to hit, I had absolutely no expectations that anything would happen. But I still wanted to try.
Three times each day, I thanked and blessed and drank the almost sweet liquid, even while my dubious mind continued to sputter, “Why are you doing this? This is stupid.” I figured out different ways of getting the stuff in, so that it was easier to stomach. As I watched the calendrical Day of Reckoning approaching, I started to get sad and nervous. What if nothing was different? Would I continue on for the 90 days like they said I should? Ugh. What if it never worked? Would I really have to live for 20-30 more years with this suffering?
I will never, ever forget when the first sign of my next monthly cycle appeared. Unannounced. Thank god I was home that day.
Suspiciously, I waited, hyper-aware of my body and what it was doing. As the minutes began to stretch, I anticipated when that awful first hint of pain would begin…the one that tells you, here it comes, look out, and grab the ibuprofen bottle quick – hurry up! But nothing happened…no pain. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I waited, listening to my belly like a new mama listens to her baby’s breath. Nothing. The minutes turned into hours and still nothing. The hours turned into days, and then…my moon was gone. It was over. There had been absolutely NO pain. Nothing. Nada. It was incredulous. No, it was a frigging miracle.
I stopped drinking the herbal medicinal brew after that, still in analysis mode and wanting to see what would happen the next month. Gosh, if I could get away with not having to drink the stuff any longer, well how cool! It wasn’t bad tasting, but anything day after day, three times a day…gets old to say the least. The wheel turned and Judgement Day arrived once again. No pain whatsoever. I fell in love.
It blew my mind, and made a believer out of me. After that first pain-free month I began to study herbal medicine voraciously, made myself and my children ingest all kinds of mixtures and combinations of herbs, grew as many medicinal herbs as I could, and made lots and lots of my own medicine. I walked the forests and deserts everywhere I went, wanting to know the ways of indigenous plants in different ecosystems.
I taught my children how to find the “band-aid” plant outside, so when they were playing and got a scratch, they could heal themselves. I established a knowledge of and connection with the beautiful Plant People, and grew in wisdom as I experimented, following their guidance, and learning what worked. I created a family legacy formula for “Mama’s Magic Medicine” that heals skin wounds, minor burns, diaper rash, and tattoos like crazy. My (now adult) kids still ask for it, as do family and friends who’ve used it over the years.
Twenty years have passed since that first herbal experiment, during which time I gave birth to my last child, and have lived pain-free (from the monthly monster) all the way through menopause, even though I never again drank the magic potion of herbal goodness. The entire experience of learning how to heal with plants and medicinal herbal formulas, has been life-changing. I am excited to share what I’ve learned with you.
Of course, consult your doctor before using herbal therapies, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.